ISLAMABAD: The government of Pakistan and the World Bank have signed the financing agreement of Punjab Rural Sustainable Water Supply and Sanitation Project worth $442.4 million.
Noor Ahmed, secretary, Ministry of Economic Affairs signed the financing agreement on behalf of the government of Pakistan, while NajyBenhassine, Country Director, World Bank signed the agreement on behalf of the World Bank.
According to official sources, total cost of the project is $553 million, where the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) commitment is $200 million and International Development Association (IDA) commitment is $242.4 million.
The loan will be provided by the IDA @ two percent and IBRD @ LIBOR + 0.5 percent, the official added.
This project aims to provide equitable and sustainable access to clean drinking water; improve sanitation; and reduce child stunting in Punjab.
The project interventions will cover 2,000 villages including 2,000 main settlements and 8,000 small settlements in 16 districts of Punjab that are the poorest and have the worst social infrastructure and stunting issue.
In line with the vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan to ensure equitable and inclusive socioeconomic opportunities, eight districts from South Punjab, ie, Bahawalnagar, Bahawalpur, DG Khan, Lodhran, Multan, Muzaffargarh, Rahim Yar Khan and Rajanpur are included in the project.
Furthermore, eight other districts from Central and North Punjab i.e. Bhakkar, Chakwal, Chiniot, Jhang, Khushab, Mianwali, Pakpattan and Sargodha are also included after due diligence.
The project will directly impact the life of common man and create employment opportunities in the rural areas.
The government will invest in social infrastructure and improve service delivery to, (i) provide potable water through cost-effective and sustainable investments; (ii) provide safely managed sanitation facilities to reduce the total fecal burden in the village environment; and (iii) raise awareness and promote behaviour change for better hygiene practices at the household and community level to promote health and ensure the sustainability and quality of the water source.
The project interventions will directly benefit to six million rural people of Punjab and will support in reducing the incidence of stunting among children aged 0-3 (40 percent) in Punjab.
Minister for Economic Affairs Omar Ayub Khan appreciated the World Bank’s efforts by highlighting that this is a signature project, which reflects the vision of the Prime Minister of Pakistan to invest in human capital and to improve the living standard of the people.
The minister further stated that today’s event was a reflection of continued confidence by the IFIs on the government’s policies, economic reforms and people-centered programs.
He reiterated the commitment of Federal Government to extend all possible support to the provincial governments in their efforts to invest in human capital by addressing challenges to health and education; building resilience, improving service delivery and promoting economic opportunities to ensure inclusive and sustainable economic growth in the country.
The secretary EAD thanked the World Bank Country Team for extending their continuous support to the Government of Pakistan to help achieving sustainable economic development in Pakistan. Country Director World Bank NajyBenhassine ensured the World Bank’s continued financial and technical support to Government of Pakistan in achieving the priority development objectives and to promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth in the country.
“PRSWSSP will help more than six million rural residents in the poorest districts of Punjab to reduce child stunting and address areas at high risk to droughts and water scarcity,” said Benhassine, adding that the World Bank is committed to the government in improving sustainable water resource management.
This project will support investments that increase climate resilience, including flood protection, rainwater harvesting and water conservation in these districts.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021